“Listen up, Miles Davis fans,” the Austin American Statesman wrote of Jeff Lofton, “…the virtuoso studied music composition and jazz at the University of South Carolina… with decades of experience under his belt, … Lofton recently relocated to Austin where his smooth jazz sounds can be heard as he leads the melodic Jeff Lofton Group.”
Lofton's recent All Miles 1950's show at the Elephant Room in Austin, Texas, featured music written by, or made popular, by Miles Davis and performed with the distinctive style of Davis' three different eras of the 1950s.
"In the early 1950s Miles' sonatas mixed with early bebop writing/playing reflects a faster, more Dizzy Gillespie style," Lofton says. "It involves playing many notes to achieve a solo interpretation. In the mid-1950s, Davis created more space in his music. Fewer notes were used and more emphasis was put on the notes he does play. The late 1950's were more Avant Garde, as well as modal concepts as heard in the album Kind of Blue."
Last fall Lofton’s Miles Davis tribute show kicked off a Sunday Night Jazz series at the historic Victory Grill, one of the few remaining juke joints from the Chitlin’ Circuit. The show’s great reception led it to an encore performance at the Elephant Room, and it’s now back again with new songs. The Jeff Lofton Quintet also includes Austin musicians Sam Lipman on saxophone (www.myspace.com/samlipman); Marc Devine on piano (www.marcdevine.com); Chris Budhan on bass (www.myspace.com/cbudhan); and Steve Schwelling on drums (www.myspace.com/steveschwelling).
“Jazz is a backdrop for popular American music,” Jeff Lofton said in a recent interview with The Monitor (http://www.thev247.com/entertainment/jazz_2162___article.html/music...). “Some people think it’s too complicated, sophisticated, or hear one artist playing avant-garde jazz and say, ‘I don’t like it.’ But it’s a myriad of cultures and diversity and connected to other music.”
Since relocating to Austin last year, Lofton has shared the stage with the Marc Devine Trio at Reed’s Jazz and Supper Club, the Sean Hopper Quartet at Central Markets, and frequently sits in at the Elephant Room’s Mike Mardecai Jazz Jam on Monday nights. The Jeff Lofton Quartet’s other Austin performances include Central Market Westgate, Central Market Central, Club 40, Club 1808, Jerry’s Artarama Artist Festival and a Barack Obama fund raising event. Recent Texas shows outside of Austin include Kirby's Fine Dining in San Antonio, Cine El Rey historic theatre and Espana Mediterranean Cuisine in McAllen, and Shenanigan’s in Brownsville.
Lofton debuted his first jazz CD, Jazz Therapy, in 2005, with the Jeff Lofton Quartet. The self-produced CD mixes old style be-bop with modern forms of jazz in the tradition of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane. In addition to Lofton on trumpet, the CD also includes Roland Haynes on piano, Reggie Sullivan on bass and Kenneth Salters on drums.
Born in Germany to American parents, Lofton grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, where he studied music at the University of South Carolina. Playing trumpet for nearly thirty years, Lofton has spent time on the road in Chicago and New York City. He has performed with such musical talents as Austin’s own guitarist Jim Mings, saxophonist Rene Sandoval, Ron Westray and Wycliff Gordon of the Wynton Marsalis septet, Fred Wesley of the James Brown horn section, Fred Hampton of the Chicago A.A.C.M., and South Carolina musicians Skip Pearson, Robert Gardner, Dr. D*** Goodwin, Dr. John Enkey, Teddy Linder and many others.
Lofton also works as an R&B and hip-hop producer, producing such artists as Legend and The Gutsmen. As a winner of the juried competition, Lofton was an artist in the music category of the South Carolina Arts Commission’s Arts in Education Roster. The program provides grants for work in educational settings statewide. He currently leads jazz clinics for high school students in Austin.
In South Carolina, The Jeff Lofton Quartet had a strong local following from a long-running Friday night show at Meritage in the Vista, as well as performances at Mac’s on Main. Lofton is also well known for the Jazz Therapy Jazz Quintet featuring himself and Skip Pearson performing on Sundays at the club Group Therapy. Other groups Lofton has played with include Defellas (an avant guard jazz group), Deja Voodoo (a hip hop/jazz fusion group) and Wadada (a reggae group).
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I'm listening to Georgia on My Mind and suddenly my office is echoing the sounds of ice clinking in a glass, the soft background clatter of cocktail room chatter and just the slightest whiff of a cigarette passes by.
Jaijai, what a wonderful mission you've undertaken to create such a place for artistic minds to meet and share their hearts. A place to renew faded determinations, and revive lessened momentums. A place to display our wares and reconfirm to one another that we actually are on the right track.
I commend you, Jaijai, for caring so much that you created this castle of the heart for all of us. I want to share my praise for all of the new friends as well as old friends that I've met and will meet here in our castle. Here we can garnish the where-with-all, the strength, the conviction, and the selflessness through our symbiosis, to share our gift to the world with an unbiased agenda.
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says of art: "A beautiful flower delights and refreshes the hearts of all people equally, no matter what soil it grows in. That is the power of beauty. The same is true of great art. It is this spirit that the German poet Heinrich Heine sang of when he wrote that once the peapod bursts open, the sugar peas inside are for everyone to enjoy."